Business News of Wednesday, 26 July 2017
Ghana will by end of this year make public a petroleum register for all agreements, licenses, permits and authorisations.
Deputy Minister of Energy in charge of Petroleum, Dr Mohammed Amin Adams disclosed this at the just ended 2nd Africa Open Data Conference in Accra.
The measure will provide clarity on the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act of 2016.
The Minister, however, did not come clear whether full-text contracts or just a simple list of agreements would be made public — the law provides for a readily available and accessible register.
Dr Amin Adam is convinced the register will promote effective and beneficial ownership as part of efforts to address corruption in the sector.
“We have taken a decision that the petroleum register which is required to be set under section 56 of the law act 911 should be established where all the contracts will be published.
“Apart from providing this information we must have a portal within the register where primary contracts can be downloaded by citizens and scrutinise,” he said.
The Minister revealed that there will be an additional portal that provides a data repository similar to what pertains in the mining sector; where data on production, pricing, lifting, even expenditure of revenue generated from the exploitation of oil can be accessed.
“Two portals going side by side so that people will be able to reconcile whether we are disclosing the real amount of revenue due the state whether the state share of oil corresponds with what is negotiated in the contracts etc,” he said.
The move is in fulfilment of Ghana’s promise at an anti-corruption summit in the United Kingdom.
Ghana promised to remain “committed to preventing the misuse of companies and legal arrangements to hide the proceeds of corruption and commits to strengthening further both the Companies Bill and the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill that are currently before Parliament to ensure that we have public beneficial ownership information and central register for all sectors, including oil and gas sector, in line with UNCAC and FATF Recommendations as well as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standards that Ghana is implementing; ensuring that accurate and timely company beneficial ownership information, including in the extractives, is available and accessible to the public”.
Dr Amin Adams also revealed that there will also be a value-for-money audit within the public procurement authority to deepen contract transparency.
“Whiles contracts are disclosed, citizens will ask questions about the cost and efficiencies used.
“But if we take for granted that only disclosing money leads to value for money, then we may be misleading ourselves,” he stressed.
The move he believes will ensure that the country is not shortchanged by contractors whether foreign or local.
Meanwhile, Co-chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), Dr Steve Manteaw, indicated that civil society organisations are doing the best they can.
Speaking at a session during the 2nd Africa Open Data Conference, he complained that most of the oil contracts are conspicuously missing on government websites.
“Government must leave by its word and open the contracts and once that is done civil society will do a good job with it,” he charged.
The 2nd Africa open data conference was a five-day engagement with stakeholders across the close that opened on July 17 and closed on July 21.